APRIL 17, 1959
NEW YORK —What is the difference between Israel and its surrounding states?
Israel is a tiny country and its neighbors should not be afraid of it, but they are. Before long, it is said, the inflow of immigration will necessitate expansion of Israeli territory. Many do not like to acknowledge it, but history has shown that the Israel army, though small, is highly efficient and, above everything, the people of Israel have something to fight for—homes, dreams of development that they see coming true year by year.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of problems in Israel. Every Israeli is not a hero. It takes time to convert some of those who come from other countries to the ideal of working for Israel. Sometimes they must take up occupations they had never before considered worthy of their consideration. Yet, they now find themselves succeeding under dynamic leadership and guidance.
There is an atmosphere in Israel that one doesn't find in many other countries. Its young people are partly responsible for it. They are excited by the dream of building a country. They are willing to work with their full youthful energy to achieve unbelievable results.
But the young could not do this alone. Israel's population is drawn from 100 different countries. Some of these countries are highly modern, highly organized with trained administrators. These are the men who are used in government and, what is perhaps more important, these are the men and women who direct individual projects.
They have imagination, they know how to handle people, and they have plenty of experience in adjusting themselves to the handling of people of different backgrounds, different religions and different customs. Where there are so many different native tongues, Hebrew has to be learned to weld the country together, and it is learned by young and old alike.
Above everything else, I think Israel's good fortune lies in its top leaders. Premier David Ben-Gurion knows how to capture the imagination of the young; how to make them willing to leave well established, easy living in an old kibbutz or a good job and give themselves to establishing a new kibbutz or to face the incredible hardships in the Negev. Or he may urge them to move to a new and growing town, which is still raw and in formation, and give their knowledge of organization and administration.
One cannot look at Premier Ben-Gurion, with his snapping eyes, and think of age in connection with him. He is young with his country and with the people with whom he expects to build it.
And I know of few other women of the character and capacity of Golda Meir, the Foreign Minister of Israel.
Yes, Israel is fortunate in its leaders. If only peace could be brought about between the country and its neighbors, those neighbors could gain much from free contacts and cooperation.
Neither Iran nor Jordan have fallen before the blandishments of communism, though heaven knows there is poverty enough to warrant it. Israel stands firm against any Communist approaches. Why cannot the Arab world, outside those who have accepted Communist domination, sit down together and work out plans mutually for the benefit of the whole area?
It is incredible that the present situation of hatred and suspicion must go on to the detriment of the people of the whole Near East. The United Nations, properly used, could give reassurance to all that there would be no partiality in considering their interests. It seems as though only God could guide this area into the ways of peace, and for the sake of all the people let us hope He finds the leadership that can spur the happy day of cooperation among Near Eastern countries.
(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 17, 1959
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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